Mental Strength Driving Venus' Comeback
Published April 12, 2012 12:07
Defying the odds is nothing new to Venus Williams. Since first picking up a racquet 28 years ago, no hurdle, either on or off-court, has proven too great for Williams to jump, dodge or sidestep.
And going by her displays on the court over the past month, Williams' ability to overcome whatever adversities life throws at her is as strong as ever.
Back-to-back quarterfinals in Miami and Charleston signaled a welcome return to form and, more importantly, fitness for one of the WTA's most successful and popular players after nearly seven months on the sidelines recovering from the autoimmune disease Sjögren's syndrome.
However, despite this confident start to life back on tour, Williams admits to having some doubts prior to her return.
"I was definitely nervous my first match back, for sure," Williams said. "That was hard. But after that it got easier and easier to play.
"The illness is definitely something I live with every day, and every day I have to be stronger mentally than the next player. I have to push myself a lot more."
This mental strength was on full display in Miami, where Williams pushed her sometimes aching body to the limit to win three consecutive three set matches before finally bowing out to eventual champion Agnieszka Radwanska.
Since her return, Williams has been taking a more philosophical approach to her tennis. An outlook the 31-year-old feels has helped her come to terms with the physical obstacles Sjögren's syndrome presents her with.
"I'm so relaxed when I get on the court most of the time," she said. "I make mistakes and sometimes I don't do as well as I want, but I just literally have nothing to lose. I'm just out there playing. So it's definitely given me a different perspective on tennis.
"But now I'm used to it. It's part of me. I don't see myself all the time as this person who has an autoimmune disease, but then also at some point I have to accept that I do. Some days it's frustrating if I don't feel great and I can't train, but I just do the best I can that day and give 100%."